As millions of women around the world held meetings and conferences, rallied and marched to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, many also joined an International Women’s Strike, a Day Without a Woman, that in the United States had the character of an anti-Trump movement.
Attempting to capitalize on, to perpetuate, and to expand the enthusiasm of the Women’s March on Washington in January, women throughout the United States took action in various forms to show their support for the strike: by actually striking, by joining rallies and demonstrations, or simply by wearing red.
Women struck against gender discrimination, wage inequality, and racism. As the organizers wrote, “In the spirit of solidarity and internationalism, in the United States March 8 will be a day of action organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women.”
Some 5,000 meetings were held across the country in February to urge women who had been inspired by the Women’s March in January to remain active. By early March tens of thousands of women had pledged their support on line and on International Women’s Day they joined actions large and small. As Linda Sarsour, who had been an organizer of both the earlier march and the strike explained, “The object for us isn’t that we hope to shut the whole economy down. We see this as an opportunity to introduce women to different tactics of activism.” And many did.
In Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. women teacher struck shutting the school. A municipal court in Rhode Island was forced to close when women clerks struck. While the strike was mostly symbolic in most places, there were rallies in dozens of cities, towns, and on college campuses across the country. In New York women demonstrated outside of the Trump International Hotel and Tower where several of the strikes organizers were arrested for disorderly conduct.
While perhaps not as large as the January Women’s March on Washington, the organizers of the strike consider it a success, for it publicized the exploitation and oppression of women, it educated wide swaths of the American public about women’s current conditions, and it mobilized tens of thousand of women to take action.
As the organizers wrote, “The tyrannies we experience—low wages, violence, racism, xenophobia—are wrapped up in global chains of trade and militarism. There has never been a more important time to unite with women fighting the same fights in many nations. And there has never been a more important time to learn from one another. As the last year has shown, women stand at the forefront of today’s struggles. Luckily, we don’t stand alone.”